Gout gene

SCIENTISTS are now looking for a defective gene that leads to over-production of uric acid, a condition that may lead to gout-related disorders and kidney complaints. Recent research shows that gout is not confined to overweight, elderly people with a penchant for alcohol. Children can also develop gout and kidney disorders if they have an enzyme defect.

Gout is caused when uric acid is not expelled from the body at its normal rate, but it has been discovered now that excessive overproduction of uric acid would cause the same problems. The excess uric acid gets deposited as crystals in the joints of the body, causing pain. Such a build-up of uric acid eventually damages the kidneys.

Stewart Cameron, head of renal medicine at the Guy Hospital in London, is now looking for the defective gene responsible for this condition. Finding the gene would open up ways of screening potential patients and suggest new methods of treatment.

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